Can Blocked Sinuses Cause Bags Under Eyes - Shens Clinic
3 Killiney Road, Winsland House 1, #09-08, Singapore 239519

Can Blocked Sinuses Cause Bags Under Eyes

woman with blocked sinuses blowing nose

Eye bags or swelling in the eye area often occur after a good cry or a sleepless night. However, puffy eyes can also be caused by congestion of the nose and allergy symptoms. It is for this reason that many doctors refer to them as allergic shiners because it is allergic reactions that are often the underlying cause of their appearance.

If you are struggling with such an issue and feeling a bit self-conscious about it, you need to understand that allergic shiners occur in many people, and it is sinus infections that may be the root cause.

If you're looking for an eye bag treatment, don't hesitate to give us a call or visit our clinic. If the causes for your eye bags are cosmetic, our doctors will gladly discuss the most appropriate treatment option for you.

The skin around the eyes is very sensitive

woman with under eye bag skin patches

The skin in that area of the face is very thin. What this means is that any change in your sleep, diet and even mental health can lead to dark circles and puffiness under the eyes. The health of that delicate part of your face is also impacted by the maxillary sinuses. When your sinuses are inflamed, the blood flow is restricted. Blood pools, leading to inflammation and swelling around your nose, which in turn causes the skin under your eyes to appear dark.

What are the most common symptoms of under-eye bags?

This sort of problem usually manifests itself in two ways:

  • Dark circles/pigmentation of the skin underneath the eyes.
  • Blue/purple coloured tint under the eyes that resemble bruises.

The most important thing to remember about puffy eyes is that if the issue is caused by nasal allergy, you will likely experience other health conditions as well:

  • Red, watery eyes that may feel itchy
  • Itchy throat or discomfort at the root of the mouth
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

If you have indoor or outdoor allergies, you may notice that the symptoms of allergic shiners become worse at a certain time of the year. For example, if you have an allergy to tree pollen, you will find your symptoms to be at their worst in early spring when trees and other plants are blooming. If you have an allergy to dust mites, pet dander, or mould, you may find your symptoms worse during winter, when your house tends to remain closed up with limited ventilation.

It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection/allergy. The main difference lies in the fact that if you have a cold, you will also likely have a fever and some body aches. But if your dark circles under the eyes persist after you have shaken the symptoms of the cold, you may want to talk to your doctor to rule out things like chronic sinusitis.

What is the cause of allergic shiners?

Asian Young Woman blowing stuffy nose

A stuffy nose, also known as nasal congestion, can be a reason for allergic shiners. That is when excess fluid contributes to swollen blood vessels in the nasal cavity. Allergic rhinitis is a common reason why nasal congestion occurs, especially in children and young adults.

Having an allergy means that your immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance, such as pollen or dust mites, as harmful and attacks it. An allergy test can easily help you identify the culprit allergen. This allergen is perceived as dangerous, and your body creates antibodies to fight it off. The antibodies, in turn, signal the widening of your blood vessels and your body to create histamine. The histamine reaction leads to experiencing common cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sinus congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, etc.

Congestion of the sinus cavities can often lead to congestion in the veins under your eyes. This is what causes swollen veins and dark circles under the eyes. Swollen veins can darken and dilate, contributing to inflammation and shadowy pigmentation.

Many types of nasal allergies can lead to eye puffiness:

  • Food allergies
  • Allergies to indoor particles - dust mites, pet dander, mould, etc.
  • Outdoor allergens - plan pollen that contributes to hay fever/seasonal allergies
  • Pollution, perfume, cigarette smoke and other irritants

If you have allergies that affect your eyes, you are at a greater risk of allergic facies, making your eyes red, itchy and puffy. If you rub your eyes, you can make matters worse.

Other conditions that contribute to swollen eyes:

  • Lack of sleep or sleep issues
  • Loss of fat and thinning skin on the face due to the natural process of ageing
  • Sun exposure
  • Face trauma/surgery
  • Enlarged/swollen adenoids
  • Polyps in the nasal passages
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Dehydration

Working with your doctor to assess the reason for your under-eye bags and whether it is a sinus infection is the best course of action.

When is it time to see a doctor?

Some situations call for medical interference. For example, if your sinus infection is so severe, affecting not just your facial look but your day-to-day activities, you should see a doctor. If you have a very high fever or your sinus infection is accompanied by pain, that is a good reason to get a consultation. If over-the-counter medication is not working well, and you have another condition that is making matters worse, your doctor can be of help, perhaps even consider sinus surgery.

What are the treatment options?

Avoiding the allergen

Sinus infections are best treated when you just avoid the allergen. You will have less trouble with the condition then, as well as experience fewer cases of under-eye bags. However, if that is not an option, then you can try nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, or eye drops.

Allergy shots

There is also the option of allergy shots to deal with allergic rhinitis. The goal is to introduce allergy-inducing proteins in your body, making it more tolerable toward the allergens to the point where you no longer experience any symptoms.

Use a neti pot

A neti pot is used to rinse your sinuses to reduce swelling and puffiness. With clear sinuses, blood vessels around the eyes shrink and become lighter in colour. Mix up a saline solution to use with your neti pot, and you just might have a tool against dark circles under the eyes.

Apply a cold compress

Applying a cool compress is a great way to relieve sinus pressure and one of the easiest home remedies to try out. It can be something as simple as a washcloth in cold water or chilled teabags to decrease swelling in your sinuses. It is an effective way of dealing with sinusitis.

Break your bad habits

There are some bad daily habits you should shake if you want to keep your skin and sinuses healthy. Don't rub your eyes frequently, don't go to bed with your makeup and don't drink excessively. All of these bad habits contribute to dry skin, which can impact your under eyes area.

Take a hot shower

Hot water makes the mucus inside your sinuses thinner, much like hydrating your body. If you ever feel your eyes sore or puffy, taking a hot shower and inhaling the steam can help relieve the situation within a few hours.

Address your diet

Dark circles under your eyes can often be a result of a poor diet and nutrient deficiencies. You should include more vegetables in your diet, reduce salt intake, and eat more nuts and whole grains. Avoid overconsumption of foods and drinks that lead to higher water retention.

Try over-the-counter nasal sprays

Over-the-counter nasal sprays can be an effective tool to remove congestion and inflammation of the sinuses and help you breathe better through your nose.


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